Hospitality sector cries for help in face of second lockdown

Linda J. Dodson

Pub and restaurant bosses have demanded further Government support in the event of a second lockdown as they warned of “increased devastation” to the sector.

The Government is reportedly considering the introduction of a two-week nationwide lockdown in an attempt to “short circuit” the virus and slow the spread of the disease. 

While schools and workplaces are expected to be allowed to remain open in a second lockdown, pubs, restaurants and other hospitality outlets would most likely be required to close or curtail their hours. 

Bosses have hit back at suggestions that pubs and restaurants are linked to an increase in coronavirus cases across the UK.

Tim Martin, chief executive of JD Wetherspoon, said: “If lockdown means closing pubs, it will be counterproductive. Data shows transmissions are much higher within homes than in pubs, probably due to hygiene and social distancing practices in the latter. 

“The wayside is littered with failed or failing hospitality companies, so increased devastation is assured if there are lockdowns without government support.”

Industry chiefs have called for an extension of the furlough scheme if there is a second lockdown. The scheme is currently due to end on Oct 31, but one million hospitality workers remain on furlough, according to trade body UKHospitality, with one in five businesses in the sector still yet to open.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “Unless we have ongoing additional support from the government through a potential lockdown then the trade off will not just be in terms of closing pubs and keeping schools open, it will be about jobs, livelihoods and business success or failure.”

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